Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

So beautiful or so what

Those two old guys Paul Simon and Sting have just finished a successful - and no doubt lucrative - series of concerts here. My friend Candie went and she was blown away. It was value for money as they both did a lot over a three hour show, singly and separately. 
I have always liked Paul since his "I am a Rock" single in 1966 .... and his solo albums are wonderful, with hardly a duff track. I particularly liked "Still Crazy After All These Years" in 1975, and I loved his recent "So Beautiful Or So What". I see he has a new Ultimate Collection compilation out, with 19 tracks - but he has so many other compilations, some with 20 or 40 tracks .... 

"Ask your dad", indeed.

Top marks to veteran disk jockey and rock historian Paul Gambaccini for taking a pop at the BBC's Radio One weekly "The Chart Show" - where the young (female) disk jockey dismissed the number one album - Paul Simon's latest Platinum Collection - with the comment "Ask your Dad" before moving on to something more trendy or in tune with what young people listen to. As Paul said, this was not only disrespectful to the artist who after all has the number one best-selling album and is still a major artist having just completed a successful tour here, it also reinforces that view that young people don't have to bother with older music from before their era. I know that feeling so well, from having worked with two guys in their twenties, Tom and Tony, for some years, who simply had no interest in anything from before their time. Thank goodness we were not like that back in our day ... 

Its a miracle ...

How marvellous to read a novel one simply cannot put down - I have just spent the last two days engrossed in the 400+ pages of THE MIRACLE, a 1984 novel by Irving Wallace. This is an intriguing drama set at the grotto of Lourdes in France, involving miracles and the return of the Virgin Mary who appeared there to Bernadette in 1858.

Irving Wallace (1916-1990) was one of that generation of prolific novelists (like Irwin Shaw, James Jones, Nevil Shute, Leon Uris) who led fascinating lives (in the second world war he served in Frank Capra's film unit and later became a screen-writer); he wrote large novels with lots of characters, sexual themes, and certainly keeps one reading until that very satisfactory ending .... as a teenager I read his THE CHAPMAN REPORT back in 1962, and the film of it is one of our favourite Trash Classics here (1962, Claire Bloom, Glynis Johns, Shelley Winters, Jane Fonda, Cukor labels). He also wrote THE PRIZE, a popular film in 1963 which I have not seen, and his other novels include THE MAN, THE SEVEN MINUTES, THE FAN CLUB, THE SEVENTH SECRET. These kind of reads involve a lot of research, like done by those later writers like Tom Clancy, John Grisham etc.

THE MIRACLE: The Vatican announces that the Virgin Mary will return to Lourdes this year to perform a miracle cure! Will it be a miracle? Or will it be a fraud? Precious lives, loves, and happiness are at stake: Ken Clayton: the young American who abandons medical treatment for the chance of miracle; Edith Moore: the Englishwoman whose miracle cure has made her famous against her will; Gisele Dupree, the French girl whose desperation to escape Lourdes will lead to violence; Liz Finch: the hard-bitten journalist who wants to "expose" Lourdes and its miracles. The ill Russian supremo in disguise hoping to be cured, the beautiful blind Italian girl and the Basque revolutionary who intends to blow up the famous Grotto ..... At the climax comes a surprise twist or two that only a master storyteller could pull off.  First published in 1984 THE MIRACLE has everything we expect from a good read: authentic detail, fast-paced plotting, suspense, and vivid characters. 

It may be 'junk fiction' -  just like there are junk movies - but once you get into it, you are hooked. I loved every delicious plot twist of it, and may now want to go back to THE CHAPMAN REPORT. As Miss Prism says to Cecily in Oscar's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: “The good end happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means".
We are now away for a week by the sea in Ireland .... back with lots more, starting with Melina Mercouri as STELLA in 1955, Oliver Reed's THE PARTY'S OVER in 1964, some more Trash Classic B-Movie Heaven items starring Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield, young Joanna Lumley, Julie Andrews, Shirley McLaine, June Allyson, and we will get back to more Marcello Mastroianni, Romy Schneider, Catherne Deneuve, and all that Shakespeare.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Marilyn, Monica and those 60s fashion magazines + Romy ...

60s fash mags! I came across this 1962 issue of TOWN magazine online for sale for a pricey £299.00. I had been looking for this, a key magazine of my teenage years, which I had in 1962 when I was 16 - and I still have that cover of Marilyn, from that November 1962 issue, which I have framed (below), its one of those George Barris shots from that beach shoot in 1962, as per my other Marilyn posts. So I think I can pass on this expensive purchase. 

TOWN was a '60s London fashion/style glossy, aimed at that man about town (rather like NOVA was for the emerging discerning female) - I also had this TOWN issue with Monica Vitti - right - I would love to get this again.  
Another Monica Vitti cover I had not seen before is this VOGUE from October 1965, left.. 

And it seems VOGUE also had a man's issue, as per this one here, with Edward Fox - very 1960s.

And looking at covers, I had to keep this 1982 issue of PARIS MATCH celebrating Romy Schneider, and covering her death and final interviews etc.

The Prince and the Showgirl: a 1957 review

There seems to be an impression that THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL was a damp squib back in 1957 and did not get very good reviews and the general view was that the combination of Olivier and Monroe just did not work, it was of course a troubled production - as all Marilyn's later films were.  

"Films and Filming" though gave it an upbeat review, by one Rupert Butler. It is rather nice:
"The coupling of of Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL represents one of the shrewdest gimmicks in show-business: the film was guaranteed maximum curiosity value before one foot of it was shot. I found the combination of these two stars irresistible and salute a brave attempt to inject Ruritanian dash into the rather dreary provincialism of much of British Cinema. 
Terence Rattigan's smoothly carpeted THE SLEEPING PRINCE used one of the oldest themes extant in light romantic comedy - the mildly libertine Royalty who falls in love with a commoner. To the coronation of George V comes the Grand Duke Charles, Regent of Carpathia, a near middle-age stuffshirt whose idea of light relaxation from protocol is a a deux caviare supper with a ravishing George Edwardes showgirl, Elsie Marina. The devastating and indestructible naivety of his victim, however, is something new to the Regent. Getting rid of this embarrassing encumbrance proves harder than he imagines. 
Elsie stays around long enough to melt his heart, ride to the Coronation practically by accident, and patch up a quarrel between the Regent and his young son (Jeremy Spenser).When the couple eventually part they promise to meet again - somewhere, sometime ...
One has become accustomed over the years to a certain amount of filmed theatre - characters' entrances and exits, perfectly natural in a theatre, can appear on screen as artificial  ... and eventually become a trifle monotonous. 
Nothing though can quite affect the quality of the leading performances. Olivier, looking like an upper-crust Heathcliff armed with a monacle, makes the Regent a figure of considerable charm. Only in moments of straight comedy does the character come dangerously near burlesque. The baby-faced Elsie, who knows all the answer and can stride through any situation with a marvellous wide-eyed innocence is tackled with all the customary Monroe zest. Nor is the performance without its moments of pathos. 
In recommending this gay and inconsequential charade I would put in a word for the superb jewel-bedizened Queen Dowager of Sybil Thorndike and about all for Richard Wattis, a perfect personification of affronted Foreign Office dignity,"

Yes, it was good to see Richard Wattis in a strong role for once - he usually popped up for a moment or two in most British films - and it all makes one want to see it once again.  There are other comments on it here, Monroe label - is also fun seeing MM interacting with those British stalwarts like Gladys Henson, Jean Kent, Maxine Audley, Vera Day - as Olivier as the Regent demands that Elsie be taken back to Brixton ! I was too young to enjoy it when it opened, but we like seeing it over the years as Jack Cardiff makes Marilyn look her most beautiful here, in that iconic white dress, and Olivier's sly performance is a lot of fun too, and he was directing it as well! 

Dirk pleads: stop calling me a 'film' star!

An interesting feature by Dirk Bogarde in the January 1957 issue of "Films and Filming" - penned in 1956, where the popular actor writes on acting .... Here are some highlights:

Dirk Bogarde, who has gained international recognition for his performances in THE DOCTOR series, explains in this article why he prefers to be known as an actor.

"Last year I was acclaimed in this country as the most popular film star in Great Britain. Naturally I was very proud and rather flattered. Also I was amused at the phrase – film star. This is one of the most misused phrased by the press and public alike.
I consider that there are only about 40 genuine film stars in the whole world, most of whom are in America or on the Continent. It is difficult to define the word “star” – but I would have said that stars are the people with the extrovert personalities and the sparkling quality that puts the glamour, the glitter and the “stardust” into a very tough work-a-day job. All of these people are highly talented and highly accomplished performers. They are the ones who, if you like, put the show into business. They are also larger than life in every possible way.
The rest of us – and I include myself – are what I would choose to call star film actors. We are the people who manage to hold a strong position at the box office, but who have also been trained in the craft of acting. People who have studied their job for several years and who can claim, after 10 or 12 films, to be sound knowledgeable technicians.
The term “film star” is applied in the press to a small child of five who is bullied or cajoled into giving some sort of performance with the aid of distraught adult actors, a patient director and an expert cutter. It also applies to a large collie dog commonly known as Lassie.
The film star tag can be a serious handicap during an actor’s essential excursions into the theatre. Even being known as a film actor is difficult. In a stage play one’s fellow players sometimes feel resentful because they assume the film actor’s name is being used to boost the box-office takings. This is possibly true, sometimes. The critics of course delight in referring to “brave Mr Bogarde unwisely attempts the stage” or “Mr Bogarde sacrifices the safety of the studio and the luxury of retaking bad performances to challenge the immediacy of the cold, hostile footlights”.
It is conveniently forgotten that I have spent more time in the theatre than in films. I started my career in repertory  at the age of 16, boiling the glue, stretching the canvas and generally getting pushed around. I played, I suppose, in repertory and the small theatres around London in probably 40 or 50 plays and during the past 10 years I have appeared in over 10 plays, 4 of which have had reasonable runs in the West End of London.
I openly confess, and I do this with humility, that I dislike the boredom of the theatre. I find the repetitious presentation of one single creation madly monotonous after the studio routine, where practically every day has some little moment which has the equivalent excitement and panic of a first night.
However I maintain theatre is an essential experience which every actor in films must have at first. If he does not seek it, he is stunting his own talent. The theatre teaches an actor practically all the basic essentials of a film actor’s job and, most important it gives him confidence and shows him how to project himself.
Certainly the theatre presents the finest, if not the only way of learning the highly difficult art of comedy, since audience reaction is imperative in developing and cultivating style, pace and, most essential, timing. This brings me back to the cinema and THE DOCTOR films, the third of which I have just completed. I know these are not great works of art, but they are enormous fun to make and have vast family audience appeal. They are entertaining, which, after all, is the essence of my job. If it were not for Dr Sparrow I probably would not be where I am today. For that, and the foresight of producer Betty Box, who practically forced me to play in the first of the series, I shall be forever grateful.
Today in the cinema I am fortunate enough to pursue exactly the kind of acting pattern I want. It has taken me 9 years to achieve this. I can now contrast comedy, such as DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (a form of high comedy) with off-beat dramas like CAST A DARK SHADOW or THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM (in which I played whimpering, neurotic young men).
It is essential to play as many varied roles as possible. This keeps an actor’s audience-interest alive. A leading actor who specialises in one part only or one character only seems to me to be strapping himself into an artistic strait-jacket. This also applies to the unfortunate stage actor who has to play one part every night of his life for three years.
I have been a so-called popular film actor for 10 years. Normally that is a long run. I may be living on borrowed time. I may have to seek wider fields – Hollywood, if the right script turns up and if it satisfies me and my bosses.
We have not enough writers who write for films. The good novelist and the good playwright is not necessarily a good film writer. In all my career, I can honestly claim that there have been only a handful of scripts with which I have not been forced to “muck about” a bit. I cannot use the phrase “rewrite” because that is far too pompous and indeed is not what I do; but I do spend many hours rewriting dialogue to make it possible for me to say. Film dialogue which looks good on paper is often difficult to speak; and that film dialogue which looks awful in print, is often wonderful to play. This has been borne out again and again. I suggest that some script writers should read their scripts alound to themselves. Doubtless they will point out that the actor is the one paid to do that.
It is because I am inordinately proud of, and passionately believe in, our film industry, that I make what are meant to be constructive comments."

We tend to forget that Bogarde did a lot of stage work initially, and had to give it up when the "fans" began to spoil the performances as they had turned up to see their "Idol of the Odeons" - though he certainly did enough fan stuff for them with all the posed stills and fan magazines, as per the selection here, and his record album ! No wonder he wanted to be taken seriously by the likes of Losey and Visconti etc. 
Good too to get a repeat of Dirk's various television interviews in the BBC Talking Pictures series, which I had recorded last year and lost on the hard disk, along with several others. I wrote about this at the time - Bogarde label - so hopefully they will also repeat the Bette Davis and Jame Mason programmes, where I am visible in the audience, all of 40+ years ago ...
How time moves on: Interesting to see James Fox - Dirk's co-star in THE SERVANT, 1963, left, and now in his 70s, is appearing on stage with another of his actor sons, Jack (another son Laurence is a busy television detective here) in a new play DEAR LUPIN, which is touring at the moment before playing in the West End. I saw James two years ago now at that special screening of the Losey classic to launch its Blu-ray release, it was fascinating to see it on the big screen again, along with co-stars Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig. As I had seen Dirk and Losey at separate events in 1970, I just couldn't miss this. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Dearden and that league of gentlemen ...

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, 1960. A witty crime caper of the old school, that one can happily enjoy again, Basil Dearden's film has a perfect lead in Jack Hawkins as a former army officer who repays his shoddy treatment by the military by recruiting a team of similarly irked ex-servicemen down on their luck, to pull off a daring bank robbery. They pull it off ok, but then ....
Forcibly-retired Colonel Hyde recruits seven other dissatisfied ex-servicemen for a special project. Each of the men has a skeleton in the cupboard, is short of money, and is a service-trained expert in his field. The job is a bank robbery, and military discipline and planning are imposed by Hyde and second-in-command Race on the team, although civilian irritations do start getting in the way. These men have "done their bit" for their country in wartime, and now are not needed any more, as they cope with failure and post-war London, faithless wives, and being the "odd man out".
A fascinating collection of Britsh actors of the period here, who were gainfully employed in the '50s in all those war movies, stiff upper lips and all - but are now slightly redundant in the new '60s era. Hawkins and Nigel Patrick, both "People We Like" here (as per labels) are great leads, with lots of witty banter. Richard Attenborough scores too as does pal Bryan Forbes - and yes, Nanette Newman gets a look in too. Theres also Roger Livesey, Terence Alexander, Norman Bird, and Kieron Moore is the coded gay one, the butt of nasty comments by Attenborough's character, which the audience of the time may not have picked up on. The witty script is by Forbes, and also featured are Melissa Stribling (Mrs Dearden),  
The long scene where the Major gathers his motley crew for lunch at the Cafe Royal, is an enjoyable sequence - watch out for Oliver Reed's swishy chorus boy who enters another meeting of theirs thinking it is his ballet class! - a contrast to seeing him in THE SCARLET BLADE the other day (and his THE PARTY'S OVER from 1964 is on its way to me). A nice addition to those British movies of the time like THE ANGRY SILENCE and those other Attenborough-Forbes projects, like SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, THE L-SHAPED ROOM and WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND

Basil Dearden (with regular producer Michael Relph) scores too, with another witty movie of his, to follow that thriller SAPPHIRE in 1959, and VICTIM in 1961. 
I read somewhere recently that if Dearden had been a European director he would be feted by retrospectives at the BFI and elsewhere. Its been interesting catching up with his other perfect British films of their era, lately like: POOL OF LONDON, THE BLUE LAMP, THE CAPTIVE HEART, FRIEDA, SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS, THE GENTLE GUNMAN, OUT OF THE CLOUDS, VIOLENT PLAYGROUND, ALL NIGHT LONG, THE MINDBENDERS, A PLACE TO GO, WOMAN OF STRAW, KHARTOUM. - reviews of these at British/London labels.
He was killed in a car accident in 1971, aged 60, he and his wife lived at Beel House, in Buckinghamshire, one of Dirk Bogarde's residences, which he had bought from Bogarde, whom he directed in 4 features.  
Two early Deardens I have not seen have now turned up on tv: the 1950 CAGE OF GOLD and the 1953 boxing drama THE SQUARE RING which features Kay Kendall and Joan Collins as the dames in its all star cast, yes Sid James is here too ...

Return to Tiffanys ....

It is always a mistake to tune in to a screening of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. as - no matter how many times one has seen it, one will sit there waiting for favourite moments. I have written about it quite a bit here, as per Audrey label - about the cat, her apartment, the fashion and glamour moments, Blake Edwards, Peppard, that "stylish girl" Patricia Neal waving her chequebook, and of course its a great New York movie and a 60s perennial. Now though, I just want to comment on the start and the finish ....
We love that opening scene behind the credits as the taxi pulls up at Tiffanys at dawn, and our huckleberry friend sips her coffee and eats her danish, looking at Tiffany's window, and then wanders back to her brownhouse apartment. It says everything about living in a big city at the dawn of the 1960s ... 
That ending too - pure scmaltz as it is, gets one every time. She throws the cat out of the taxi, then relents and searches for it, in the train. They look at each other - did any couple look better in the rain? - and then she hears cat. Cue the heavenly choir singing "Moon River" as the camera rises and pulls back, as they become just another couple in the rain, with the wet cat squeezed between them. Perfect. Of course it is not Capote's ending at all, where he sees the cat in somebody else's window, after Holly did go to South America .... but this ending is what we want here. Time and time again. 

Sophia on TCM

If only we had the American TCM movie channel here in England. Our version just shows mainly routine westerns ..... Last nights was a tribute to Sophia Loren ..... with 2 screenings of that new short film she has made with her son, THE HUMAN VOICE. It has not even screened here in London yet, not even at our BFI. Good to see TWO WOMEN getting an airing too - it has been too long neglected. MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE is always a pleasure, and she is certainly marvellous in MAN OF LA MANCHA, which I finally caught a few years ago. More Sophia here please!
8:00 PM
dramaHuman Voice (2014) EXPAND

8:30 PM

10:17 PM

10:30 PM
dramaHuman Voice (2014) EXPAND

11:00 PM

12:43 AM

12:51 AM
shortVisiting Italy (1951) EXPAND

1:00 AM

3:30 AM

musicalMan of La Mancha (1972) EXPAND

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Gypsy - stomping at The Savoy !

Two Roses & Mrs Lovetts: 
Angela & Imelda
Its a blast. A day later we are still on that high one gets from being blown away by a super show that exceeds one's expectations. I only knew GYPSY from the 1962 film so seeing it on stage was an eye-opener yesterday. It follows the film exactly, or I should say the film follows the original show, but the current stage show in London is fast paced, zippy, very cinematic and works on every level. The star of the show of course is that bundle of dynamite Imelda Staunton who pulls all the stops out. The audience rises as one to give her a standing ovation after "Rose's Turn" - its a huge role, with lots of business - she probably has a sit-down and a cup of tea while the Three Strippers do their "You Gotta Have A Gimmick" - they are dynamite too - and then Louise "entertains" us. Lara Pulver (whom I saw last in SHERLOCK) scores too as Gypsy and her transition during "Let Me Entertain You" is also expertly done.

I last saw Imelda on stage, well over a decade ago now, as Miss Adelaide in GUYS AND DOLLS at the National, and an indelible memory is of her dancing alone on the stage, with the audience egging her on. Since then of course she stunned us in VERA DRAKE and so much more, like the recent PRIDE and that lovely tv film last Christmas, THAT DAY WE SANG, and she voices Aunt Lucy in PADDINGTON, and we liked her in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, CRANFORD and others. Like Julie Walters, Alison Steadman and Brenda Blethyn, she has worked her way up to becoming one of our senior actresses, and also has that Mike Leigh association.  National Treasure status beckons. 
GYPSY has a great company, the children are all perfect and the transition to adult is marvellously handled, its a long show too as we settle down to the big climax with those three great numbers: "You Gotta Have A Gimmick", "Let Me Entertain You" and "Rose's Turn". What a show but what a pedigree: book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sondheim; this production is expertly directed by Jonathan Kent. Also perfect here is Dan Burton  (right) who lights up the stage as Tulsa, with his great number "All I Need Is The Girl". Dan has been in lots of shows and is simply terrific, shame he is not in the second half.
Dame Angela Lansbury was at the opening night this week too - she also played Mamma Rose, 40 years ago. This GYPSY was already a hit at Chichester Theatre last year, and should play to packed houses here. I hope Imelda is resting up today, after two shows yesterday. She is also on TV here on Tuesday in Paul O'Grady's chatshow - Paul loves GYPSY so that should be a blast. I may even have to put on the movie again before too long ... The essence of musical theatre then, up there with FUNNY GIRL in 1966 or A CHORUS LINE or - even with the cramped leg space at the Savoy, and worth every penny of that very expensive ticket. It follows on nicely too from Sondheim's ASSASSINS seen a month or so ago ... Initially booked till July, it is now going on until November! 
For Stan Rippon who would have loved this (he loved the 1962 film and soundtrack).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Hippie trippy Zachariah

For Clive, Joe, and old hippies everywhere ...

ZACHARIAH, 1971. Gunfights and electric guitars in the Old West? You bet! Zachariah gets a mail order gun, practices a little, and kills a man in the local saloon. He and his friend Matthew set out to become gunfighters, joining with the Crackers, a rock band who are also (pitifully inept) stage robbers. Having quickly outgrown that gang, Zachariah and Matthew set out to become bigtime gunslingers. Before long, they part company and a rivalry grows between them ..... both take up with the notorious Belle Starr but Zachariah finds peace working at a desert outpost with an old man, until gun-slinger Matthew turns up, dressed in black. Can the boys rekindle their old friendship and ride off into the sunset together? Youbetcha.

That in a nutshell is the hippie trippy rock western ZACHARIAH, a totally forgotten 1971 flick now (I never got to see it at the time but remember the photos in movie magazines), but it captures that crazy era perfectly, as much as ZABRISKIE POINT or EASY RIDER or ALICE'S RESTAURANT, or Robert Benton's 1972 western BAD COMPANY (more young guys getting guns and getting into trouble...) or the show HAIR and it paves the way for those Eagles and country rock groups (Poco, Notorious Byrd Brothers) with their outlaw and cowboy fantasies, spaced out in the desert ("Desperado", Elton's "Tumbleweed Connection", The Band's entire output). It was also that time of Leon Russell and Joe Cocker's rock'n'roll circus MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN ... so, lots of music, lots of dope, groovy chicks and guys, gay vibes, anything goes.... It must have been ideal for the Midnight Movie circuit. 

The blurb says: The adventure begins when Zachariah, who has just received a mail order gun, convinces his blacksmith friend Matthew to ride off with him on the trail of The Crackers, a roving band of bandits. At a saloon where The Crackers are entertaining Zachariah gets embroiled in a gunfight but manages to outdraw and kill his assailant. Flushed with success he decides that he is good gunfighter material and he and Matthew set out on a trail of gun-slinging adventures throughout the West.

I dare say boot hills were full of guys like Zach and Matthew, as they encounter outlaws and madams in saloons - Belle Starr's establishment is particularly lush with those dancing go-go girls. Young Don Johnson is stunningly attractive as Matthew - particularly in that black leather and chaps ensemble, while Zach favours the all white look. John Rubinstein is our hero Zachariah - he is he son of Arthur Rubinstein and starred as Fosse's PIPPIN on Broadway, among other roles), and Country Joe and the Fish (WOODSTOCK) are hilarious as the clunky group The Crackers. Its almost like JOHNNY GUITAR territory but with an acid rush and a rock group playing in the desert. Cue long drum solos and various rock numbers .... Johnson had already done another hippie trippy THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART in 1970, and the prison play FORTUNE AND MENS' EYES.

This was one we totally forgot, until an IMDB pal Jorge re-discovered it and its a treat. I loved it, and it will be played again. Oh, those early '70s. There's a gay vibe here too as the two boys seem more than best pals .... but hey, the wild west was like that. Zach openly loves Matthew and wants them to stay together. The guy in the saloon refers to Matthew as Zach's girlfriend and even calling Zach "a little fag" does not provoke him. Pat Quinn's Belle Starr seems to be working a Jayne Mansfield vibe too ... This surreal crazy movie was produced and directed by George Englund. Thanks, George. With Elvin Jones, Doug Kershaw and William Kallee as the old guy.  

Quite a different ending to
Brokeback Mountain
Jorge says: Hi Mike. 'Zachariah' is certainly worth a look, it's an inventively loose take on Hesse's novel "Siddhartha”, has a great soundtrack, but is above all a love story between two handsome cowboys, John Rubinstein and Don Johnson. This unexpected and strong gay aspect makes 'Zachariah' even greater than the already fun acid western it is. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

And this is a fascinating piece on it:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thats a double bill!: Barbarella and American Gigolo

For those who saw them initially, or over the years, AMERICAN GIGOLO and BARBARELLA are the height of fashion and glamour and define the 1960s and the 1980s. So, as they were both on Sky Movies the same day (saves getting the dvds out...) let head off once again in Barbarella's space ship and enjoy the lush life as we cruise along with Richard as that Giorgio Moroder soundtrack sets the mood ...
The initial poster we liked
After experiencing Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER last week, scripted by Paul Schrader, now its back to his 1980 breakthrough movie AMERICAN GIGOLO which for me kickstarted the 1980s. I could rhapsodize about this for hours, and have, as per previous posts - see American Gigolo label.  Here though is David Thompson from his huge tome: "Have You Seen..."
"Paul Schrader directs from his own script and puts his every love and desire into the picture, so it thrills to the pulse of disco music, voyeuristic sex, Robert Bresson, the LA light, the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, driving on the freeway in a convertible, the “privacy” of Palm Springs, and the infinite blossom of corruption in Southern California. It is often like an advertisement (shot with exquisite taste by John Bailey), and it delights in streamlining moderne-ism and the sultry swish of the passing moment. The whole thing is poised on an edge where collapse or public mirth are equal possibilities, yet it survives and brings its fatuous Sirkian plot to a lovely finale. Within the delirium of cliches and pretension, something absolutely true strides forward, personified by Gere’s lounging walk and his shameless attitudinizing. This was a new kind of riveting trash. If you want to know about American in 1980, then go to American Gigolo and Raging Bull."

Looking at it this time, I was riveted by Lauren Hutton - Gere is so extraordinary here that one initially tends to overlook her, but she is the complex heart of the film and delivers exactly what is required. Whether its Gere's Julian in THAT apartment, or laying out his Armani clothes to that perfect Smokey Robinson track, or Moroder's soundtrack (I had it on vinyl and cd) pounding as he drives to Palm Springs, or "Love and Passion" by Cheryl Barnes as he enters the gay disco ---- Scharader's Calvinist upbringing makes this seem like a circle of hell - it is all a perfect re-working of Bresson's PICKPOCKET as Julian has to turn on himself and wreck his apartment to find those stolen jewels ... and then that moment of redemption. Schrader continued his obsessions with that remake of CAT PEOPLE in 1982 another glossy sexy exercise, as per my review, Schrader label. As much as I like Gere here, after Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN and Schlesigner's YANKS, I had no desire to see him in most of his following films. This is what I said a while back:  He is so central to the movie, like how Antonioni idealised David Hemmings in BLOW-UP.
I will have to upgrade mine to Blu-ray - as a great looking movie its up there with BARRY LYNDON, THE AGE OF INNOCENCETHE LEOPARD or THE GREAT BEAUTY
Here is some more on it:
BARBARELLA, 1968, by contrast is a dated, throwaway comic strip but not without its own amusements, a key 60s movie certainly, with some great sequences and imagery, not least David Hemmings as the revolutionary, John Philip Law as the blind, blond angel Pygar, Milo O'Shea as Duran Duran, those dolls with the teeth - and Anita Pallenberg's evil Queen with designs on our heroine and who is surely voiced by the unique Joan Greenwood, and of course Jane's wide-eyed innocent in and out of those amazing costumes. A lot of fun all-round then, almost as good as MODESTY BLAISE